What Are Athletic Fit Jeans & Who Should Wear Them?

In this article we discuss athletic fit jeans. In recent years, the jean industry has expanded the types of fits available for purchase. Although this is done to provide a wider range of options, it also can be a bit confusing. What are athletic fit jeans?

Athletic fit jeans are jeans that have a looser, relaxed fit above the knee, but narrow below the knee for a more tailored fit near the ankle. These are perfect for those who have big thighs, and need space above the knee, but don’t want sloppy bagginess near the ankle.

This slight taper below the knee mimics the natural shape of your leg. For those who like a relaxed fit, it can be annoying when that same relaxed fit looks baggy and sloppy near the ankle. Athletic fit jeans offer a solution for that.

In this article let’s take a closer look at athletic fit jeans so you have a better idea if they are best for your needs.

Athletic Fit Jeans

What Are Athletic Fit Jeans?

Athletic fit jeans are jeans that have a looser, relaxed fit above the knee, but a more tailored fit below the knee. This creates a pair of jeans that will show natural shape while still providing plenty of space for your thighs to breathe.

This type of denim fit is tailored to those who have athletic, muscular thighs. The fit is designed to provide a cut that is relaxed enough through the thighs to accommodate large, muscular thighs, but tailored enough to still show shape down near the ankle.

People with large, muscular thighs often find themselves needing a relaxed fit above the knee, but don’t necessarily want the baggy, relaxed fit below the knee. An athletic fit has a tapered design, that does provide space above the knee, but tapers in near the calf and ankle to show some shape.

Although these are made for athletic body types, they are also popular for normal people who just prefer extra space in the thigh and seat of their jeans. Athletic fit jeans are often, but not always, made from stretchable fabric to allow for smooth movement when in an active environment. To read more about stretch, visit our article: What are 4 way stretch jeans?

Do They Make Athletic Fit Jeans for Men and Women?

Yes, they make athletic fit jeans for both men and women, although they are more popular for men. Initially, athletic fit jeans were made mostly for men.

Today, many denim brands make athletic fit jeans for both men and women, although the selection still tends to be more abundant for men.

How Big Is the Leg Opening on Athletic Fit Jeans?

The leg openings on athletic fit jeans will, of course, vary slightly from brand to brand. Generally, most athletic fit jeans have a tapered cut design to provide an excellent fit without being baggy at the bottom.

This means altough the jeans have a relaxed fit through the thigh, the leg opening tends to be more of a straight or slim leg opening. Again, this creates a fit that matches the body shape of athletic men and women.

Many brands will actually offer different types of athletic fit jeans, and may offer some with a more standard leg opening, and others with a more slim leg opening. But despite the leg opening, athletic fit jeans have a cut that allows for a looser, more spacious cut above the knee than below the knee.

Who Should Wear Athletic Fit Jeans?

Again, these pants tend to be best for those with large, muscular thighs. This makes them popular for those who regularly workout and are in exceptional shape.

The athletic fit gives them a more tailored design. In the past, people with large thighs would be forced to buy a relaxed, loose jean that could fit around their thighs.

Problem is although they needed the loose fit for their thighs, they didn’t necessarily want or need the loose, baggy fit below the knee. This athletic fit provides them a sort of hybrid: spacious above the knee, more tailored below the knee.

But it is important to note that some people, with more average thighs, still like an athletic fit simply because they prefer extra space in the thigh and seat of their pants. The athletic fit allows them to have that extra space they need, but still have a fit below the knee that isn’t too baggy.

And although athletic fit jeans are certainly not the only fit of jeans to taper below the knee (slim-straight jeans, for example, are looser above the knee also), an athletic fit puts an emphasis on loose thighs. Other types of tapered jeans, like slim-straight, do provide a looser fit above the knee, but they don’t provide as much space in the thighs as athletic fit jeans do.

Who Shouldn’t Wear Athletic Fit Jeans?

As mentioned above, athletic fit jeans are made for the muscular body. They are made for the man or woman who works out regularly and has large thighs.

If you have skinny thighs, the athletic fit might not make sense. For skinny thighs, if you want to show some shape, you will probably need a true slim fit or skinny fit, or maybe a slim-straight.

For skinny guys and skinny girls, athletic fit jeans will likely feel baggy and too loose around your thighs. There are, however, variations to accommodate most body types.

They do make skinny athletic fit jeans, which may work out well for those of you who have skinny legs but still prefer extra room in the thighs. If you are a skinny guy looking for jeans, visit our article about the best jeans for skinny guys.

I’d recommend the 511 or the 512 jeans by Levi. To find out how they compare, visit our article Levi 511 vs 512.

Is Athletic Fit the Same a Slim Fit?

There is a difference between a slim fit vs athletic fit. While slim jeans tend to be slim from the hip down through the ankle, athletic fit jeans tend to be loose above the knee, and slimmer below the knee. Athletic fit jeans are a sort of hybrid.

Slim fit jeans are designed to show some shape for those who have skinnier legs. This includes the thigh.

For athletic people with muscular thighs, they may prefer a slimmer fit below the knee, but when they try to fit into slim pants, it feels like their thighs are going to burst through the jeans.

Athletic fit jeans, however, solve this problem. These jeans provide plenty of room in the thigh and seat area, and then taper below the knee to show some shape. How much the jeans tapers will vary from brand to brand.

The thigh area of athletic fit jeans is designed to allow for active movements such as bending and crouching without having your jeans rip up at the seams. This is one reason why athletic fit jeans are popular for tactical service pants.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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